Winner of the Fiction Category, Wales Book of the Year 2015
Beyond the picturesque views of tourist Wales life on the farms can be hard and cruel. A sheep-farmer, numbed with grief at the shocking, accidental death of his wife, struggles on alone through the lambing season. Still unable to grasp the finality of his loss or to plan for the farm’s future, he doggedly, sleeplessly continues the exhausting ritual of bringing lambs safely into life. Meanwhile a rat-catcher and badger-baiter plies his violent, illegal trade, seeking out setts for strong boars to fight against trained dogs. The local magistrate turns a blind eye while the baiter covers his tracks and pockets his cash. Tension increases as the police become suspicious but badgers are still needed for the distant, secret fights where men drink, place bets and cheer at first blood. Gradually the parallel lives of the widowed farmer and the hunter draw closer and overlap, with disastrous consequences for both.
Through small, telling details award-winning writer Cynan Jones subtly conveys the bonds of man’s relationship with the land and the realities of life in rural west Wales. Written in his characteristic understated yet poetic style, The Dig is a powerful, unforgettable novel.
'The Dig turns the reader into a helpless animal; transfixed waiting for that blow to the skull. The first, unexpected emotional whump is actually the worst, but the story that unfolds from this shock is like a badger bait: you can root for the underdog but the game is rigged - there can only ever be one outcome.'
'It is a book that will get in your bones, and haunt you.'